Thursday, January 19, 2012

Boy of Age 16 Asks Me about Relativity, etc.
9. Recommended Books on and by Einstein for Young People

Books recommended.
A friend of mine on Twitter, Aaron (a pseudonym), is an overseas, 16-year old boy, who seriously admires Albert Einstein and wants to become a physicist. He continually writes me (Ted, also a pseudonym) questions about the theory of relativity and related topics, and I am sending answers. In this series of blog posts, those questions and answers are reproduced with modifications. I am not an expert in the fields of physics related to relativity. So, my answers might contain errors. If you find any error, please do not hesitate to write a comment for the benefit, not only of the boy and me, but also of other readers.

This time, Aaron does not pose a question, but write about Einstein as follows by appending many photos of Einstein to his email message:

Aaron: Oh my God! That smile of Einstein! I'm gonna die. I want a hug from him! He's cute, isn't he?

Ted: You have a sizeable collection of photos of Einstein and talk about him like a lover. Now there are a lot of biographies of him for people from young to adult ages (a search of paperbound books by the key words "biography Einstein" at gives a list of about 500 titles). Have you read any of those for adults?

I liked a book written in a relatively early year (first published in 1972). It is entitled "Albert Einstein, Creator and Rebel." The author is Einstein's close collaborator Banesh Hoffmann. Another book about Einstein I recommend to young people is "Einstein: A Centenary Volume" edited by A. P. French (published by Heinemann for the International Commission on Physics Education, 1979). You may find copies of these books at a library or an old-book shop.

As for books by Einstein, "The Evolution of Physics" written together with one of his co-workers Leopold Infeld (Touchstone, 1967, still available; first edition 1938; my copy, Cambridge University Press, 1978) is one of the most excellent books for young people to learn about the development of ideas in physics from early concepts to relativity and quanta.

By the way, it is Einstein's birthday and is also π day, today. The reason for the latter is that it is March (the 3rd month) 14th. So, his birthday is especially convenient to remember. Do you have any party for this day at your home?

(Originally written on March 11 and 14, 2011)